A letter has been sent to online operators regarding adverts featuring images that are likely to appeal particularly to under 18s.
This letter was a joint exercise by the Gambling Commission, the Advertising Standards Authority, the Committee of Advertising Practice, and the Remote Gambling Association. The letter covers the worry that certain gambling ads are designed to appeal to children.
Action required: removal of ads that appeal particularly to under 18s
We are writing to advise you to amend or remove immediately any ads on your website or in third party media that are:
- likely to appeal particularly to people aged 17 or younger (‘under 18’); and,
- generally available to view (‘freely accessible’).
This relates particularly to freely accessible ads for play-for-free and play-for-money games and includes all graphics and images displayed on a website or in third party media.
The Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP): the author of The UK Code of Non- broadcast Advertising and Direct & Promotional Marketing (the CAP Code). We work with the UK advertising industry to achieve the highest degree of compliance with the Code.
The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA): the independent body that assesses whether ads comply with the CAP Code, banning ads that don’t.
The Gambling Commission: an independent non-departmental public body sponsored by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport. It was set up under the Gambling Act 2005 to regulate commercial gambling in Great Britain in partnership with licensing authorities.
The Remote Gambling Association (RGA): a trade association representing online gambling companies, part of whose role is to encourage social responsibility within the betting and gaming industry for the benefit of its members and the public generally.
Recent articles in the UK national press1 have highlighted a number of freely accessible ads on gambling operator websites, which feature images that are likely to appeal particularly to under 18s. This is unacceptable.
Gambling operators are required by the UK Advertising Codes and the conditions of their Gambling Commission licence to advertise responsibly with particular regard to the protection of under 18s and others who are vulnerable to being harmed or exploited by gambling advertising.
The rules and guidance
The CAP Code states:
|16.1||Marketing communications for gambling must be socially responsible, with particular regard to the need to protect children, young persons and other vulnerable persons from being harmed or exploited.|
|16.3||Marketing communications must not:|
|16.3.12||be likely to be of particular appeal to children or young persons, especially by reflecting or being associated with youth culture.|
|17.13||Marketing communications for lotteries must not be likely to be of particular appeal to children or young persons, especially by reflecting or being associated with youth culture.|
It should be noted that, while the minimum age limit for purchasing National Lottery products and participating in society lotteries is 16, the rules in section 17 (Lotteries) of the CAP Code are designed to ensure that marketing communications for lotteries are socially responsible, with particular regard to the need to protect those aged under 18.
An ad is considered to have “particular appeal to children or young persons” if it is deemed likely to appeal more to under 18s than to over 18s. The use of particular colours, cartoon and comic book images, animals, child- and youth-orientated references and names of games such as “Piggy Payout”, “Fluffy Favourites”, “Pirate Princess” and “Jack and the Beanstalk” are likely, alone or in combination, to enhance appeal to under 18s.
These ASA rulings identify gambling ads that appeal particularly to under 18s and were subsequently banned:
The CAP Copy Advice team offers this advice on how to ensure betting and gaming advertising does not appeal to children.
You must immediately amend or remove any freely accessible ads on your website or in third party media space that are likely to appeal particularly to under 18s. (This includes affiliate ads that promote your company and its products.)
We appreciate that there may be difficult and nuanced decisions to be made, particularly in cases where imagery and characters, which might have appeal to both children and adults is used. This Foxy Bingo ruling by the ASA highlights the reasons why, in that case, the creative content was considered likely to appeal to children, but not particularly so.
Ultimately, if you are uncertain about whether an ad might appeal particularly to under-18s, CAP advises you to exercise caution and amend or withdraw the ad pending any discussion with the CAP Copy Advice team, especially given the overriding emphasis in the Gambling Act 2005 and the CAP Code to protect children and young people from being exploited by gambling. The team offers a free, reliable and confidential service that provides advice within 24 hours of being contacted.
If gambling operators cannot or will not bring their advertising into line with the Code, the CAP Compliance team has various sanctions available to it and will consider applying these if we continue to see gambling ads that have particular appeal to under 18s.
If you have specific questions regarding this letter please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Chief Executive, ASA
CEO, Gambling Commission
| Clive Hawkswood
Chief Executive, RGA
It is good to see these organisations coming together to tackle this, a strong tenet of ethical marketing is not in advertising to children and this is an even more important aspect as its gambling too. It is nice to see iniatives like this cross organisation especially following Responsible Gambling Week earlier this month.